As if people cared about the urban poor


The homeless and urban poor in Kuala Lumpur are an invisible community. They roam about the city, hidden by the shadows, or trying to earn the daily wage in the filthy back lanes from some odd job that most working class Malaysians won’t want to get their hands dirty. Whether the poor are locals or foreigners, it matters not to Malaysian society, the Institution does not seem to see nor positively react to the presence of the untouchables.

They are rendered invisible from societal prejudice, and when it suits the high society, the rich, the marginalized suddenly become visible once or twice a year during festive holy days when charity becomes a norm in front of photographers and ass-kissing reporters who have received a generous gift to write a story about some corporate social responsibility of a company or the “generosity” of a politician.

Stigmatization of the urban poor happens simply because people stopped caring for those without money and due to their lowered station in life. Society depends on NGOs to “clean the streets” of the undesirables, or what do they call them, “remove them for their own good” as someone said to me.

As if society cares for the struggles and lives of the poor. As if NGOs know what to do.

homeless in Kuala Lumpur



An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at and @bedlamfury

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